Von Aschenbach's self-destructive ascent to Beauty: Death in Venice in relation to Plato's Symposium
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In this paper I will investigate how Thomas Mann's novella 'Death in Venice' relates to Plato's aesthetics, as explored in his dialogue 'Symposium'. The main point of the dialogue, 'the ladder to beauty' explains how a person can use the physical beauty of one person to get - after passing through several stages - a better understanding of the abstract idea of Beauty itself. I will argue, by analysing the character development of the protagonist, von Aschenbach, how the novella responds in a complex way to the Symposium: on the one hand it confirms the ideas of Plato, but on the other hand it brings Plato's aesthetics up for discussion.